Cardinals AFL Interview Series: Pete Kozma

The St. Louis Cardinals' former first round-selected shortstop speaks from the Arizona Fall League.

Perhaps no other St. Louis Cardinals prospect in recent years has generated as much attention as their first-round pick in 2007, shortstop Pete Kozma. In 2010, his second partial and first full season in Double-A, the 22-year-old raised his Texas League OPS over 100 points over 2009 – from .600 to .702. His total errors remained flat year-to-year at a very robust 34.

With a decision looming by the organization regarding Rule 5 protection, the Cardinals assigned Kozma to the Arizona Fall League. Through Friday, November 12, Pete is batting .241, almost identical to his .243 mark with Springfield this season. Just as in the past, the right-handed hitter had very hot streaks and periods when hits have been scarce.

Rafters' hitting coach Derrick May had Kozma in Springfield in each of the last two seasons and continues to push his pupil to find that elusive consistency. For several days in Arizona, May had the assistance of former MLB hitting coach Mitchell Page.

Page, who worked with Kozma in the cages outside the clubhouse and again during batting practice on the field, told me his contract with the Cardinals expired at the end of October, but his future plans were not set. He had left the Quad Cities hitting coach job in early May.

Kozma and third baseman Zack Cox also put in extra time defensively this past week prior to AFL games with Cardinals Field Coordinator Mark DeJohn.

"Pete has got a very good swing," May said. "He is just trying to find more consistency and stand square. That is what Mitch was talking to him about and he has his drills. He is a good guy to listen to because he knows what he is talking about. We want to get Pete square so he can use the whole field."

May believes he knows what can unlock Kozma's offensive potential, but only if the player is willing and able to adjust his approach.

"He hit .240 or .250 this year by using just one part of the field," the coach observed. "If he can use the other side of the field, he is going to hit .270 or .280... And if he does that, he will be a big league shortstop."

Even if his approach changes, Kozma needs to show he can do it night after night.

"Consistency is the most important thing in this game for everybody to get to the big leagues," May said. "You can't be inconsistent in the big leagues. You have to be a consistent player mentally, consistent physically or you won't be in the big leagues. For him, he is a young guy learning his consistency. As soon as he learns that, he is going to take off."

In the following exclusive audio clip, Kozma discusses his 2010 regular season and his work in the AFL.


TCN has you covered!

As every year, The Cardinal Nation is your leader in independent first-hand reporting on and from the Arizona Fall League. Keep returning daily for new interviews with the Cardinals prospects playing for the Surprise Rafters this fall and their coaches.

Other interviews in this series
Brian Broderick
Ramon Delgado
Jordan Swagerty
Blake King
Zack Cox
Adron Chambers
Tony Cruz

Coming soon
Derrick May

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